In the latest installment of VolunteerSpot's Summer of Service series, author and service leader Tammi DeVille shares great tips on how to recruit and keep volunteers. Thanks Tammi!
The Importance of Story Telling for Inspiring and Recruiting Volunteers
By Tammi DeVille, author of Changing the World on a Tuesday Night
We're a Facebook world.
We like to see faces, photos, histories, favorite quotes and stories! Who are our mutual friends, are they married, single? What's their story? We like to find ways to relate, ways to connect, ideas for events, activities, causes that we can get involved with.
It's important that you do the same thing when you are trying to communicate the benefits of volunteering with your organization.
People don't want to hear just the general terms – duties, hours, locations, etc. Tell them the stories of the people they'll be volunteering with and for.
- Who's been there for years?
- Why did they get involved?
- What do they really love about it?
- Do they have advice for how to get the most out of the opportunity?
- And what are the stories of the people they'll be serving?
Not just “kids who need adults to read to them”, but "Joey, who's single mom is working hard to meet his basic needs but doesn't have the time to read to him in the afternoons after school. Joey's smart and energetic and loves to read about snakes!" See how we can connect with him.
And then there are those volunteers who are behind-the-scenes. They'll never meet Joey, let alone hear his story first hand. They might just hear how crazy busy the office is, and how the volunteer turnover has made it hard to get this project done and “here, here are the files that need to be sorted and the database that needs to be updated.” These are the people who need to hear the stories the most and with frequency.
Keep everyone connected to the mission and the people that you serve.
Volunteering is about connecting with people. It’s about realizing that we are all in this world together, and acting with the realization that by making the world a better place for one person—a person with a name and a story—we make the world a better place for all of us.
Names, images and stories are powerful; they appeal to our heart while statistics send us straight to our left brain. When we start using our left-brain to prioritize our time objectively, we can always rationalize reasons not to volunteer. On the surface, it doesn’t seem as productive, or as relevant. What your left brain won’t factor is the feeling that comes from watching Joey’s face light up when you read to him about giant pythons, and just how productive it feels that Joey has had just one more positive connection with people who care.
We can all make a difference in the world, but what’s even more important, is that we can make a difference in Joey’s world…and our own.
Tammi DeVille is the author of Changing the World on a Tuesday Night – a book that tells the stories of 48 people from around the country, with busy lives, who make time to volunteer on a regular basis. She also helps universities and corporations tell the stories of their students and employees who make a habit of giving back. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
And please make sure to keep up with the rest of VolunteerSpot's Summer of Service series!
- Small Actions, Big Impact by Nate St. Pierre
- Supporting Military Families by Christina Jumper
- Volunteering for Kids by Marilyn Price-Mitchell
- CSR and Employee Volunteering by Michael Nealis
- Family Day on Summer of Service